Horticulture Magazine

East Facing Garden Planting & Growing Tips

gardeners hands planting in soil

Do you have an east facing garden and are you wondering what to plant in it?

We have some great ideas and options for you to ensure your garden looks stunning.

An easterly facing garden can spend a lot of time in the shade so selecting the right plants is crucial. You need to look for plants that enjoy partial shade and like moist conditions.

One of the first things to consider is that the garden will be sunniest in the morning and become shadier during the day, so plants that enjoy morning sun will thrive in this environment. The back border will get full sun at the start of the day, so this is a great place to put your sun-loving plants.

What problems can an east-facing garden have?

Poor drainage can be an issue, if you are getting lots of water-logged beds then your garden is likely suffering from this problem. Adding lots of organic matter will help with this. It creates air pockets in the soil and the water will drain away more easily. You can also add bark chippings which will help to supress weeds and act as a mulch.

Close up of wooden splinters in garden
Drainage is very important in a shady garden

The right plants in the right the place

If you want your garden to look great all year round then you need a variety of shrubs, bulbs, flowers and perhaps even a tree if you have space.

We have done some of the hard work for you and chosen 5 plants that are suited to your east facing garden:


Let’s start with a lovely shrub that is perfect for these conditions. They are also known as dogwood or flowering dogwood. They can grow to quite a size so would look great in a bigger border. They also offer year-round interest, varieties such as the Cornus alba Sibirica go a beautiful deep red in winter when many other plants fail to impress. Some varieties also flower in winter.

They can grow between 3 and 8m in height and spread, so can be large, but there is no reason why you cannot prune them back to keep them contained in a smaller border or garden. They tolerate shade and frost and icy conditions.

They should be pruned hard every year to encourage new growth and it is advisable to do this in late March to mid-April.

If you want a hedge in your garden then look no further than Yew. They are evergreen so will offer year-round colour in the garden even in shady conditions. You can keep them as a conventional hedge or shape them into a topiary of your choice.

Yew tree with red fruits
Beautiful berries on a Yew

In autumn they can produce red fruit that offers a welcome blast of colour against the dark green bushy hedge.

Taxus baccata does well in shade or sun so is perfect for your easterly spot. They can grow over 12 metres in height and can spread over 8 metres so can grow to quite a size.

Clematis montana

If it is a beautiful climber you want, then Clematis montana (also knows as mountain or Himalayan clematis) is great for your garden and it comes in many varieties. It is deciduous so loses its leaves in winter but provides a wonderful display of beautiful white flowers throughout Spring.

It can spread very quickly but is great to cover a fence, grow up a tree or hide an unsightly wall. It can grow up to 12 metres. It doesn’t need a lot of pruning, but dead flowers need to be removed and it is perfect for a garden that has plenty of morning sun. It is also worth mulching the soil to protect the rootball and crown during winter.

Drooping white flowers of the nicotiana sylvestris plant
The sweet-scented tobacco plant


Beautiful white flowers that release the most heavenly scent in the evenings. They are perfect for an east-facing border because they love afternoon shade.

They are also known as the tobacco plant and will grow to about 1.5 metres high. They flower in summer and are extremely easy to look after they don’t need any pruning and the plant is very disease resistant, so they are great if you are an inexperienced gardener.


Low growing plants that thrive in shade and produce very pretty flowers. There are plenty of varieties to choose from. You can have early or late flowering bulbs depending on your planting scheme. They look great at the front of a border and are good ground cover to fill in spaces.

Anemone blanda also known as Grecian Windflower is an attractive perennial and the blue variety produces daisy like flowers in spring. They look quite spectacular in full flower and will come back year on year to delight.

They need moist soil but well-drained and grow about 10 – 15 cm tall. Once they have flowered they lie dormant and are easy to look after. They will even flower under trees so can be planted underneath larger shrubs and plants in the border.

Embrace your easterly aspect

Hopefully, you are feeling optimistic about planting in your garden and that working with the sun and shade is important. With plenty of good compost in your soil and plants that thrive in a partly shaded plot you will have an aesthetically pleasing garden all year round.

It is not all doom, gloom and shade though. Remember that we have beautiful long evenings from May to October in the UK, so the back of your garden during this time will often be bathed in sunlight for a large part of the day. This might be the perfect place for a bench or table and chairs to enjoy a glass of wine and the fruits of your labour.

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